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Family affair, Kraupies carry on auctioneer and ranching traditions

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Bridgeport, Neb. – For three generations, members of the Kraupie family have been auctioneers in one way or another.

Kraupie’s Real Estate and Auctioneers started in the 1958 with Harold Kraupie, the first generation of Kraupie auctioneers.

“As the story goes, my dad Harold, was working on a ranch in Garden County, Neb. trailing cattle to be shipped off to market when he realized there had to be a better way to make a living,” states Darrell Kraupie, owner of Kraupie’s Real Estate and Auctioneers. “Then, dad decided to go to auctioneer school in 1958.”

Harold and wife Evelyn started running auctions in 1958, and each received their real estate license in the mid-1960s, according to Kraupie. Then, the couple opened Kraupie’s Real Estate and Auctioneers and worked for other real estate brokers.

Involving the family

“Our business will always be a family affair,” states Kraupie, who became interested in being an auctioneer at 12 years old after selling a piece of farm equipment at an auction.

After high school, Darrell went to college on a rodeo scholarship to Lamar Community College in Colorado. He worked for his parents in high school and started working full-time for the family business in 1975. 

Kraupie and his wife Alecia bought Kraupie’s Real Estate and Auctioneers from Harold and Evelyn in 1998 and have owned and operated the business for 20 years.

“I didn’t go to auctioneer school, but when I was in college, there was an auctioneer class I signed up for,” Kraupie says. “The teacher was Dick Hess, a regional champion livestock auctioneer from southern Colorado.”

“Really, my schooling came from dad. In between horse sales, my dad and I would practice selling telephone poles or anything we saw driving down the road,” recalls Kraupie.

Kraupie’s family is involved in the business, including their three children Jake, Kristen, Del Ray and his wife Stacey.

“Del Ray, Jake and I are auctioneers, which is three generations of auctioneers,” says Kraupie. “Kristen is the technology guru, and Stacey comes and helps out when she can.” 

Real estate auctioneers

Real estate, farm machinery and estate sales are the main services Kraupie’s Real Estate and Auctioneers provides, according to Kraupie.

“We sell all types of real estate but focus on agriculture real estate,” he states, noting they have sold land in almost every county in the Nebraska panhandle and the surrounding areas.

Customers seek out the Kraupies, who go out and look at the property then determine what the customer’s goals are for the sale, Kraupie explains.

“We try to define the customer’s needs and then proceed from there because we are pretty knowledgeable about the farm ground in this area,” he adds.

Usually, auctions are held on the property for sale, but farm equipment is also displayed for customers online during the live auction.

The ranch

Kraupies also operate a ranch where they raise black crossbred and Corriente cattle.

“My dad bought the biggest pasture in the early 70s, and I purchased the land after his passing in 2006,” Kraupie says. “The ranch is also a family affair.”

On the ranch, there are 90 crossbred and Corriente cows. Plus, 50 yearling cattle and 100 head of Corriente calves are kept on site, according to Kraupie.

Both Del Ray and Jake are professional steer wrestlers, so a few Corriente calves are kept on the ranch for practice, he adds.

“When Dad had the pasture, he ran Charolais and crossbred cattle, but we switched to crossbred cattle and brought in the Corriente cattle when the boys were in youth rodeo about 20 years ago,” Kraupie explains. 

Calving season starts on the ranch in March, he adds, and the cattle graze on cornstalks and alfalfa hay grown on 200 acres of pivot-irrigated farmland.

“By the time May rolls around, the cows are moved to hard grass pastures and graze until the middle of October. At the end of October, the calves are sold right off the cow,” notes Kraupie.

Once the cornfields and hay are harvested, the cows are gathered to graze on the cornstalks and fed hay for the winter, he mentions.

Change and challenge

Both the ranch and Kraupie’s Real Estate and Auctioneers have experienced changes and challenges, according to Kraupie.

“There seem to be fewer farmers across the country, which means fewer farms to sell,” he states.

The economic climate of the farming industry right now is the biggest challenge for the Kraupie’s real estate business, along with high taxes.

“Real estate taxes in Nebraska are high and have an effect on property value, which we have to consider,” states Kraupie. 

“For the ranch, the biggest issue is maintaining an environment where money can be made from ranching. The economics of ranching in western Nebraska are difficult,” he notes.

Overall, the Kraupie’s ranch and business have changed, as well.

“Computers have been the biggest change for the business, with the addition of online live auctions,” Kraupie says. “The auctions have become a mix of providing live and online auctions, so buyers will participate.”

The addition of the Corriente cattle is the biggest change on the ranch, states Kraupie, because they eat less grass while maintaining the range with fewer animals.   

Moving forward

In the future, Kraupie wants to maintain the integrity and honesty in Kraupie’s Real Estate and Auctioneers. He also wants to expand the ranch and hopes his sons buy their own ranches and expand, as well.

“Staying competitive in the real estate market and keeping up with technology are my main goals for the business. We would like to see another generation of auctioneers,” he states.

Kraupie says he grew up in the agriculture industry and really enjoys working with people.

“I’ve stayed in agriculture because I enjoy working with people. We take pride in helping people sell their property and meet their goals,” he notes. “The best job I know about is the one I have.” 

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Heather Loraas is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at

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